Liam Goligher on covenant theology (part 1)


Here’s my notes from yesterday afternoon’s excellent session by Liam Golagher on covenant theology at the Fellowship of Word and Spirit conference, Swanwick 2011. Lots to think about. These notes were taken in the context of a lecture and are not a full transcript nor are they verbatim. Some ideas may be misrepresented by me.

Liam Goligher – Session 1

In biblical history there is a great bridge from garden paradise in the beginning to garden city at the end.
The supports holding the spans of the bridge are the great covenant interactions of God with his people.

To understand the former covenants we must begin with Jesus at the cross, the high point of his ministry. In the upper room with the 11 of 12 men who will form the nucleus of his new covenant ministry as he inaugurates the new covenant that God is establishing.

John 17 – an inter-trinitarian conversation which reveals the plan of salvation first designed before the beginning of time.

Covenant – a relational, rather than legal or political,

[New covenant – new in means but not in essence?]

What I want to argue: When the children of Israel read Genesis 1&2 they read the Pentateuch as a covenant document in similar terms of Hittite treaties.

The preamble – I am the Lord
The historical prologue – out of Egypt
Covenant stipulations – the law
Blessings and curses

God initiates. Covenant initiative rests with God not man.

Moses focuses in Genesis 1 on the relationship between God and his people.

The universe is simply described as “very good”
The universe is such that “wherever we cast our eyes, all things that they meet, those are the works of God.” Calvin

Covenant of Creation –

John Frame – all life, plants and animals, are created to be God’s servants

God is unopposed and undisputed creator, dependent on nothing.
We are dependent created beings, humble, small, contingent, made for God’s pleasure.

Name change from Elohim to Yahweh. – the covenant Lord
Adam knew God covenantally, his relationship was mediated through covenant.

Man now the mediator of the creation covenant – to bear the image of God in the context of creation, to administer the covenant between God and creation.

As created beings, we share many features with other created beings. But we have superadded qualities as those made in his image. Made as eschatological beings, moving forward toward the end for which God has made us.

God is King, so we are little kings, God is Holy, so Adam was holy, God names and so Adam names the animals.
Don’t look at men and women today to see what men and women were.
Humans today are mere ruins of a once great building.
Adam was holy, living without fear of death or any threat, as he lived in God’s protective presence. The memory of the original relationship with God, the memory of the original human being is found in natural theology – awareness of right and wrong, but also that right leads to blessing and wrong to cursing.

Genesis 1
The preamble – In the beginning God – creator of all and Lord
The historical prologue – so he created man in his own image, male and female he created them.
Covenant stipulations – eat of all trees, do not eat of one tree (law)
Blessings and curses – eternal life or death

Implied promise of life for keeping the law.
Threat of death is spelled out.

In the rest of scripture where a threat is made as a sanction, the opposite applies as reward.
If it applies to the rest of scripture it must apply in Genesis.

The tree of life is unexpounded – the tree of life is irrelevant to the rest of the story until it reappears in the end of the story.

If the second Adam was obedient and through him came life, then it is implied that if the first Adam had obeyed then life would be his and his descendents.

The tree of life symbolises the blessings to humanity should Adam had obeyed.

Therefore, the covenant of works. This covenant is not posited on grace but on goodness. Adam had to work (keep the law) to obtain eternal life.

Christ works to keep the law.

Israel breaks the law as Adam did.
Israel in the land is paralleled with Adam in the garden.
God’s people need a redeemer.

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